April is a season of spring, but in China’s northeast region, the home to the best soybeans in the world, the fertile black land is still covered under the thick white snow. During this long winter, Gu Lianjun, a soybean farmer, has been worried sick. He owes ten thousand yuans of farm loan to the bank, and he didn’t know how to pay it back, since he hasn’t been able to sell his 2,400 kgs of soybeans he harvested last August; unless he sold them at a very low price similar to that of imported GM beans, but which means he would earn little to nothing from his whole year’s hard labour.

He is one of few Chinese farmers still in the soybean business, AND, one of even fewer who keeps growing organic soybeans. But for how long they can hold their ground before they go broke?

Until 15 years ago in 1995, China exported large quantities of soybeans to the world, yet now China is THE biggest soybean import nation on the planet, according to a report by China Cereal and Oil Info Net (中国粮油信息网).

Here comes a question: What kind of change took place in China’s soybean industry since entering the 21st century?

The answer is no change whatsoever, either with the land or with the people, except a little fact that a clause included in the WTO treaty began to take effect.

According to the agreement, China must fully and permanently open its soybean market with a low tariff of about 3 per cent. It didn’t take long for the cheap and low-quality GM beans from the American continent to arrive in China in large quantities which eventually drove the local organic soybeans out of the market.

The true implication of the soybean story could be way beyond business matters or profit concerns – the health of Chinese people might be seriously compromised since soybeans play such an indispensable role in the Chinese diet.

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